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Sacred FollyA New History of the Feast of Fools$
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Max Harris

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449567

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449567.001.0001

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Jean Gerson and the Auxerre Affair

Jean Gerson and the Auxerre Affair

(p.187) Chapter 16 Jean Gerson and the Auxerre Affair
Sacred Folly

Max Harris

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines Jean Gerson's attempts to suppress the Feast of Fools in 1400 by focusing on his involvement in the Auxerre affair. Jean Gerson was appointed dean of the collegiate church of Saint Donatian in Bruges in 1394 and chancellor of the University of Paris a year later. Gerson was perhaps the first powerful voice in the long and often negative “reform of popular culture” which Peter Burke has called “the triumph of Lent.” Like the later reformers, he protested against the intrusion of what he understood to be profane playfulness into sacred space. The Feast of Fools was an obvious target. This chapter analyzes Gerson's first attack on the Feast of Fools by name via “Against the Feast of Fools,” written in August 1402, with particular emphasis on his rejection of the claim made by “someone at Auxerre” that the Feast of Fools “is as much approved as the feast of the [Immaculate] Conception of Our Lady”.

Keywords:   popular culture, Jean Gerson, Feast of Fools, University of Paris, Auxerre

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